I keep up with Richard Byrne’s blog http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ pretty frequently, and recently he wrote about 5 popular online “comic book makers” that students can use to create their own storyboards and comic books about what they’ve learned in a lesson or a lesson unit. (The best part — they’re free!!)
So how would making comic books fall in line with STEM education? Well, obviously, it’s the tech part; making personal comic books online is using technology (the most simple being the Internet). But it’s the engineering part that comes into play as well.
Engineering is all about taking a question or problem and designing different solutions, making plans to solve the problem, and then evaluating them to determine the best solution. Students can use paper and pencil, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets (which include the mathematics part), or any other application. But writing dialogue (including designing comic books) requires building a storyboard and planning out a beginning, middle and end to a story. Is that not designing a solution to a problem? Think of a novel, screenplay for a movie, or a staged play: the most interesting ones include a problem between the characters and the solution to the problem by the end of piece of entertainment. Isn’t that what engineering is about? A problem between characters could certainly mimic a problem between humanity and the climate, new technology, or energy conservation. So letting students express their views of their solutions in such an artistic, creative way includes those who enjoy expressing themselves in more literary ways — while showing off their problem solving skills. What a fantastic way to involve them in the scientific world without even knowing it!!